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Part II: "Of the Despisers of the Body"

Part II of the similarities between the book, “Thus Spoke Zarathustra,” by Friedrich Nietzcshe and Taoist thought.

In this section, Nietzsche speaks of the ignorance of those who neglect the importance and power of their bodies. Among many philosophies is the notion that are bodies and physicality are not important, or even a hindrance to our lives. Nietzsche however, disagrees vehemently, and what philosophy better than the Taoist’s recognizes the importance of our bodies.

In Nietzche’s words:

“You say ‘I’ and you are proud of this word. But greater than this – although you will not believe in it – is your body and its great intelligence, which does not say ‘I’ but performs ‘I’.”

Are you saying that my body may be its own sensing, computing, and processing entity? Can there be an organ other than the brain that is capable of cognition?

“Behind your thoughts and feelings, my brother, stands a mighty commander, an unknown sage – he is called Self. He lives in your body, he is your body… There is more reason in your body than in your best wisdom. And who knows for what purpose your body requires precisely your best wisdom?”

So there is! Or at least may be. How do blind people experience the world through touching? Why can certain negative thoughts suddenly trigger an upset stomach? What of our gut feeling? Would it be strange for a tai chi chuan practitioner to tell you that he avoids concscious thought in order to experiences one’s life more fully? There are examples in our everyday lives that indicate the importance and potential cognition of our body.

“The creative Self created for itself esteem and disesteem, it created for itself joy and sorrow. The creative body created spirit for itself, as a hand of its will.”

I’ve often heard of our bodies being a manifestation of our spirit, but rarely our spirits created by our bodies! Perhaps what is evident in the physical realm is not so impure or simply materialistic. To martial artists of the Taoist persuasion, our physical bodies are inextricably linked to our path to understanding. Only by daily practice and tending to our bodies with the right balances may we find such evolution of the mind and spirit. A change in our mind also changes our bodies, and vice versa.

I tire of exclusivity, especially thus condemning what is so infinitely complex and beautiful. I say, let our bodies be the maps for our lives, ever consulting for a path to our treasures.
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